Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic


Mexican Gothic
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Horror/Historical/Mystery/Gothic

352 Pages

Published by Del Rey Books (30th June 2020)

Purchase from | Booktopia | Book Depository | Fishpond AU* | Dymocks | QBD | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Amazon UK |

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My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Actual rating of 3.5

Noemi Taboada loves the finer things in life. No stranger to parties, socialising and working her way through to find the suitable man, she’s also intending to obtain a high education and make something of herself. When she receives a frantic and nonsensical letter from her newly wed cousin begging for help, for someone to come and save her, Noemi’s father decides to send her up to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside to find out what’s going on. On arrival, Noemi can tell that things are a bit off, her cousin is bed ridden and doesn’t leave her room, there are strange rules to follow – handed down by her cousin’s sister in law, and the patriarch of the family has a strange fascination with Noemi that makes her skin crawl. Her only ally in this strange, foreboding place comes in the form of the youngest son, who is kind, shy, gentle and knowledgeable. It seems he wants to help Noemi, but also might be holding back information pertaining to his family’s dark past. As Noemi digs deeper, she finds a past littered with greed, madness and death, and soon she might find it impossible to leave High Place behind.

I’ve gone on a bit of a horror kick this year, and I kept seeing this book pop up all around bookstagram, and goodreads, so I figured why not. The synopsis really gave me the feeling of a dark, oppressive (I’ve been using this word a lot lately), strange atmosphere and I wasn’t really too sure what to expect from it. And while it didn’t disappoint, it turned out to be a lot different than what I was expecting, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

We first meet Noemi when she’s attending a party with a suitor. We get the sense that she’s a socialite who is no stranger to men, parties, and indulging in the finer things in life, initially I wasn’t sure what to think of her. However, we’re soon introduced to the other side of her, a person who is intelligent, driven and ambitious, she has grand ideas of attending university, to gain the highest education she has, I believe that it was something science based (I can’t quite remember exactly). This quickly made her character intriguing, I love that she was so well rounded and that there were two sides to her. It really endeared her to me quite quickly. I love an intelligent and forceful female lead, and Noemi was definitely this. She even pushes back against her father, insisting on what she wants out of life. I feel like Noemi’s character really took center stage in this story, and I guess rightly so because she is the MC, but all of the characters that we met were so well written. Noemi’s cousin’s husband – Virgil, he came across so charming but from the get go I didn’t trust him, I just knew there was something nefarious hiding beneath his charming exterior. The husband’s sister – Florence I didn’t like from the get go, instantly she came across so unlikeable and she made my skin crawl, don’t even get me started on the patriarch of the family *shudder* man that character set my teeth on edge from the first meeting. Then we have sweet, wonderful Francis, Florence’s son, he was such a shining light in a place that was shrouded in darkness and I absolutely adored his character so much, I don’t want to say too much about him as I don’t want to give anything away, but Francis was one of the key things that kept me reading. His character growth and the relationship development between Noemi and him was just *chef’s kiss* and I adored everything about it. Then you have High Place, the house itself felt like a character all of it’s own, and I guess it was if you take into account certain story aspects which I will not mention (you need to read it if you want to know). It really gave me the feel of Shirley Jackson’s Haunting of Hill House, the foreboding nature of the house itself really made it feel like it was hard to breathe at times. I feel like the addition of the servants of the house really added an extra layer to that feeling of being isolated too which was great.

Moreno-Garcia did such an amazing job of really setting up such a strong atmosphere, from the get go there was this underlying sense of dread that just settled around my shoulders and wouldn’t let go. The sense of isolation and hopelessness was something that slowly built throughout the story until it got to the stage that you were locked in the cage, banging on the bars to be let out while simultaneously wondering how in the hell you ended up here. It’s an atmosphere that slowly built around you as the story progressed, much like the feeling of being slowly consumed by a strange fog until you’re lost. I will admit though, that while the characters and the atmosphere were brilliantly done, the story itself did come across a little dry for most of the book. It was a slow burn horror, and the pacing was pretty slow from the get go, and yet, I found myself unable to stop reading. I just had this inane need to know what was going to happen next and I have to admit, I didn’t see any of it coming. I did know that a lot had to do with a certain aspect that keeps being brought up in the story, but that’s only from reading a couple of other reviews which had mentioned something – I’m intentionally being vague as I don’t want to give anything away, so if you’re planning on reading this, can I please just advise, it’s probably best to not read ANY reviews because it might give the smallest detail away. And in this story, I found that the details were everything.

All in all, this was a good read and great addition to the horror genre, in the way that it was totally different. It felt like a gothic horror of years past and it brought about the sense of horror not through shock value, which a lot of books in this genre tend to bank on, but on the slow realisation that you are completely powerless, isolated and without hope. I will throw a couple of trigger warnings in here just incase, there is an attempted rape, and there is body horror. Just thinking back on the story while writing this review makes my anxiety poke it’s head up a little, not in a bad way, but in a way that shows me that this book really did hit the mark with it’s intent. Even though the story was slow, I did still rather enjoy it and it kept me interested. I also really want to know what happened after Noemi went back home, I’m so curious as to what happened with a certain character once they left High Place! So I’ll leave this review by saying – if you’re looking for a slow burn horror novel that doesn’t rely on the generic things to illicit this response then this is the book for you. If you’re after something that’s fast paced, action and just horror at every turn maybe skip it as you won’t find that here. This is one of those books that I feel like really needs to be savored – in the way a wine connoisseur will take their time with a vintage red. You need to be able to sit with the story and let it envelop you in order to get the full experience.

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